Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Lingo Fracas Erupts Again

agnes b. just wants to sell tarts, not create controversy over its menus
Hong Kong people are becoming more and more sensitive to the presence of mainlanders and language recently became a hot topic.

It was discovered that the popular agnes b. Cafe LPG chain has its menus printed in simplified Chinese characters and Hong Kongers got extremely upset about it.

The cafe apologized on its Facebook page yesterday after many users on an internet forum complained about the "invasion of simplified Chinese" at its new branch in Tseung Kwan O's PopCorn mall.

While the cafe said management would replace the wall menus at all of its branches, the company had been using simplified Chinese since 2008.

Did it really take four years for people to notice?

"The Times Square branch -- one of the first shops we had -- only offered English menus as we received complaints. So we have also included simplified Chinese characters at every branch since then," a company spokeswoman said.

"In light of the complaints, we will replace all our wall menus to include only English and traditional Chinese. Simplified Chinese will be listed alongside the two languages in the printed menus," she said.

Hopefully this will calm down the public, as agnes b. is very popular with trendy young people.

But in reality, many companies like banks have lots of advertising in simplified Chinese, specifically aimed at potential mainland clients.

So what about the rest of us?

It's the non-Chinese who are really losing out even more these days; 15 years after the handover, those who can't read Chinese are getting the shorter end of the stick when it comes to billboard advertising and promotional emails are always in Chinese, English second.

Regardless, this latest incident shows the controversy over mainlanders in Hong Kong has not gone away.

Instead it's still like embers flickering in the background that can spark into flames at any time...


  1. it only shows how shallow hong kongers are. the simplified chinese is gaining acceptance and is getting more and more popular.

  2. It's about the tensions between Hong Kong and China, freedom of speech and expression. The ability to speak Cantonese and read/write in traditional characters is what makes Hong Kong different from the mainland.